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A cocktail is a mixed drink, usually containing one or more distilled alcoholic beverages and perhaps non-alcoholic drinks, ice and sometimes liqueur, fruit, sauce, honey, spices etc. The cocktail became popular during the Prohibition in the United States; to mask the taste of bootlegged alcohol the bartenders at a speakeasy would mix it with other liquors and non-alcoholic drinks.

Until the 1970s, cocktails were made predominantly with gin, whiskey, or rum, and rarely with vodka. From the 1970s on, the popularity of vodka increased dramatically. By the 1980s it was the predominant base for mixed drinks. Many cocktails traditionally made with gin, such as the gimlet, may now be served by default with vodka.

Non-alcoholic carbonated beverages which are nearly exclusively used in cocktails (or in non-alcoholic soda fountain drinks, such as the egg cream[?]) include soda water, tonic water, and seltzer[?].


Cocktails gained popularity in late 18th century England and soon spread to the United States. Especially during the Prohibition, the cocktail was used to mask the taste of the often low quality alcohol.


There are several different, plausible theories as to the precise origin of the term "cocktail". Among them are:

Some say that it was customary to place a feather (presumably from a cock's tail) in the drink to serve both as decoration and as a signal to teetotalers that the beverage contained alcohol.

An alternative etymology is that the term is a corruption of coquetier, a French egg-cup which were used to serve the beverage in New Orleans in the early 19th century.

See the list of cocktails for many cocktail recipes.

A Molotov cocktail is a crude incendiary weapon.

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